Belleville

Lindenwood investigating student party that led neighbors to call police

When dozens of young people crowded into a home owned by Lindenwood University-Belleville on Saturday night, residents who live near the home said they endured the disturbance for as long as they could.

But when the party and noise had not ended by around midnight in the home at 2023 W. A St., neighbors decided to call the police to disperse the crowd.

“I can understand get-togethers, but at some point it became an unmanageable situation because it continuously spilled out into the street,” said Noah Bruemmer, who lives across the street from the Lindenwood home and did not want the noise to awaken his four children under the age of 12. Bruemmer said some people leaving the party made obscene gestures, but he also said one of the students who lives in the home apologized.

Lindenwood University Dean of Students Suzy Jones said in an email that the school is aware of the complaint and is conducting an investigation.

“While police who were called to the scene issued no citations, if we deem that any violations of policies for student conduct occurred, we will take appropriate disciplinary action,” Jones said. “Our ongoing positive relationships with our neighbors are very important to us.”

Bruemmer, who said he asked the party-goers to quiet down twice before he called police, said he saw at least 70 young adults leave the home and that more left after he stopped counting.

A police summary said “40 plus” persons were dispersed, Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert said.

Two members of the Belleville City Council, Mike Buettner and Jane Pusa, live on West A Street near the home where the party occurred.

Buettner, of 2015 W. A St., said he saw people bring beer and liquor bottles into the home, which is owned by the university. Lindenwood’s policy bans alcohol from property owned by the college.

“If they take it inside, and they’re quiet and I never hear it — no harm, no foul. But when it spills out and disrupts the whole neighborhood, that’s wrong,” Buettner said.

Buettner said Lindenwood security officers should be controlling students, and that residents should not have to resort to calling Belleville police officers. Buettner and Bruemmer both called for the police to respond to the party.

This wasn’t the first time Buettner called police regarding Lindenwood students. In May 2016, he told police officers that students living next to him had erected a sign that said, “Mind ur own business ps. move!!” Buettner said he considered the spray-painted sign a threat, but the police department declined to seek charges.

Pusa, of 2116 W. A St., said she was home Saturday night and did not hear noise from the party. Pusa also noted that she has not received a significant complaint about students during this school year.

“I can say from the start of school this year, not one person has called me to say that they’ve had any disturbances or anything with the kids,” Pusa said. “I walk all the neighborhoods periodically and talk to the neighbors.”

Eckert said city leaders are “not ignoring” residents’ complaints.

“We take it serious,” Eckert said. “At a university, you’re going to have, unfortunately, some situations ... arise from time to time and we’re trying to deal with them effectively and fairly, and we’re certainly conscious of the neighbors.”

Bruemmer, Buettner and other area residents first complained to city officials about problems of noise, litter, parking and trespassing in the summer of 2015. That was after the university made a push to buy homes and apartments near the campus at 2600 W. Main St. In November 2015, the City Council voted 11-5 to approve special-use permits for more than 50 homes and apartments for student housing.

Some residents in the area have said they enjoy having Lindenwood students in the neighborhood and seeing the investment Lindenwood has made to renovate the properties.

And all residents contacted by the News-Democrat, including those who have raised complaints, have said they support the university and students in general.

Buettner said Lindenwood properties should be subject to the city’s crime-free ordinance that regulates landlords and their tenants who rent apartments and homes.

But Eckert said since Lindenwood has the ability to dismiss students, city officials did not see the need to include students living in college-owned properties to be included in the crime-free ordinance.

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